Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Reading Envy 197: Surly Magnificence

Lauren is back and fresh from June's Read Caribbean challenge and July's Sci-Fi July. We also talk summer reading, Women in Translation Month, and colonization.

Download or listen via this link: Reading Envy 197: Surly Magnificence

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Books discussed:

Dancing in the Baron's Shadow by Fabienne Josaphat
That We May Live edited by various
Soviet Milk by Norah Ikstena
Mountolive by Lawrence Durrell
The Lesson by Cadwell Turnbull

Other mentions:

Contribute to the 200th episode (words, not money)
Chef by Jaspreet Sing
The God of Small Things
by Arundhati Roy
The Ministry of Utmost Happiness
by Arundhati Roy
Hadriana in All My Dreams by Rene Depestre
Everything is Wonderful: Memories of a Collective Farm in Estonia by Sigrid Rausing
Secondhand Time
by Svetlana Alexievich
Dublin Murder Squad by Tana French
Justine by Lawrence Durrell
Balthazar by Lawrence Durrell
Clea by Lawrence Durrell
My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell
The Durrells in Corfu (tv show)
Arc of a Scythe trilogy by Neal Shusterman
Wayfarers by Becky Chambers
Dawn by Octavia Butler
Utopia Avenue by David Mitchell

Related episodes:

Episode 097 - Blank Spaces with Lauren Weinhold
Episode 123 - Godlets and Forests with Lauren Weinhold
Episode 133 - To Understand the World with Lauren Weinhold
Episode 138 - Shared Landscape with Lauren Weinhold 
Episode 147 - Bonus Poetry Recommendations with Lauren
Episode 161 - Women in Translation Month Recommendations with Lauren
Episode 163 - Fainting Goats with Lauren

Stalk us online:

Lauren at Goodreads
Lauren is @end.notes on Instagram
Jenny at Goodreads
Jenny on Twitter
Jenny is @readingenvy on Instagram and Litsy

Sunday, August 9, 2020

Review: What's Left of Me Is Yours

What's Left of Me Is Yours What's Left of Me Is Yours by Stephanie Scott
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A man hires a firm to seduce his wife so he has grounds for divorcing her, and she is found murdered by her father. The novel moves back and forth in time between the wife and her daughter as an adult, looking into more of the situation surrounding her mother's death. This is based on a real story coming out of Japan and the author took the idea and ran with it. It's a small thing but I also really loved how she writes the surroundings of each scene - it never bogged down the narrative but I always had a clear picture in my mind of the scene in ways I don't usually have.

The author thanks Louise Doughty in the afterword and I feel like if you have read Doughty you will like this too..it has a feeling of being a thriller but isn't really a thriller, crime elements without being a crime novel.

I had a copy of this book from the publisher through Edelweiss but it's been out since June 23.

View all my reviews

Review: Stephen Florida

Stephen Florida Stephen Florida by Gabe Habash
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book stayed with me so powerfully after I read it in December 2017 that I decided to make it the required book club experience for the Summer Reading class I've been teaching. I originally listened to the audio but read through Kindle Prime this time around. I should have given it five stars last time so I am doing so this time - I actually don't think it's a perfect book but the amount I thought about it after finishing it, the characters and some of the discussion points - make me want to rate it as highly as possible. This is not a book I would have been drawn to but there is something about it that is really special.

Stephen is a college wrestler with single-minded focus on his goals, but you can't be sure if his version of reality is sound, and the reader has a lot of work to do. He's also not likeable per se but so perfectly rendered that I continue to think about him, wondering what happened to him after college, etc. Cover art uses a work by George Boorujy, and it is a standout book cover.

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Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Review: The Mussel Feast

The Mussel Feast The Mussel Feast by Birgit Vanderbeke
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

From the publisher blurb:
A mother and her two teenage children sit at the dinner table. In the middle stands a large pot of cooked mussels. Why has the father not returned home? As the evening wears on, we glimpse the issues that are tearing this family apart.

'I wrote this book in August 1989, just before the Fall of the Berlin Wall. I wanted to understand how revolutions start. It seemed logical to use the figure of a tyrannical father and turn the story into a German family saga.' Birgit Vanderbeke

Peirene intentionally publishes shorter, read in one sitting, translated works - it would have been hard to take much more of this one in the sense that you really get a sense of the dictator father and how his behavior has controlled the family. It is told from the perspective of the oldest daughter, and at least in the ebook there are no chapter or paragraph breaks. It's like being in the family yourself, oppressed with no end in sight.

I know it's supposed to be a metaphor for East Berlin and the wall coming down or something like this but it's also an uncomfortably accurate depiction of how one tyrannical person can limit the lives of the people he controls (okay, I see it now, this is also what happens in oppressive regimes, got it.)

The novel starts with the mother cleaning mussels for her husband's homecoming - he expects meals to be a certain way and she complies, even though as she has said on multiple occasions, she does not herself care for mussels. Everything must be done his way.

Another point in the novel, it says "...Music, my father said, was pure excess and would never get any engine started. He said this because ever since their escape to the West my mother’s violin had lain in their bedroom wardrobe, and only occasionally." He also refuses to go to the mountains for vacation, criticizes her appearance and wardrobe, and won't let the narrator play the piano.

I loved the ending, and will look for more from this press. I was happy to read this from the books I already had for Women in Translation month; this is translated from the German.

View all my reviews

Monday, August 3, 2020

Review: Utopia Avenue

Utopia Avenue Utopia Avenue by David Mitchell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I'm a huge fan of David Mitchell (I couldn't fit all the books into the picture) and this novel was highly anticipated, *and* I love novels with a music theme. This novel is about a band in 1960s UK, and the chapters move between their perspectives as new songs are written and recorded (the sections of the book are grouped by sides.) There are a lot of connections to his other works, because everything is all part of one übernovel - those parts were very fun to discover but I won't spoil them here. My only sadness is that it is over....

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Saturday, August 1, 2020

Books Read July 2020: 165-193

In July, I still had no physical library access, so I read books I had access to at home. Thankfully that includes a lot of digital content, from ARCs to library eBooks. It also includes more books from my shelves, huzzah! I'm still not consuming audio except a sprinkling of podcasts here and there. This month's ReadtheWorld challenge was for Eastern Europe, and I learned I may not exactly understand the political history of Moldova. When I tackle Eastern Europe more deeply next year, I hope to untangle some of that confusion. For now it's on to August, which is Women in Translation month!

Pictured: July's 5-star reads

165. The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett  ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (eARC from NetGalley; my review)
166. The Lightness by Emily Temple ⭐️⭐️⭐️ (eARC from NetGalley; my review)
167. Broken Harbor by Tana French ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (personal copy; my review)
168. Eat Joy by Natalie Garrett, ed. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (Hoopla eBook; my review)
169. Daughters of Smoke and Fire by Ava Homa  ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (eARC from Edelweiss; my review)
170. How We Fight For Our Lives by Saeed Jones ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (personal copy; my review)
171. That We May Live by Various, translated by Various ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (personal copy; my review)
172. Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (print galley; my review)
173. Girl Gone Viral by  Alisha Rai  ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (Libby eBook; my review)
174. Sorcery & Cecelia or the Enchanted Chocolate Pot by Patricia Wrede & Caroline Stevermer ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (Hoopla eBook; my review)
175. Crooked Hallelujah by Kelli Jo Ford ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (eARC from NetGalley; my review)
176. Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi, translated by Geoffrey Trousselot ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (eARC from NetGalley; my review)
177. In an Absent Dream by  Seanan McGuire ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (Libby eBook; my review)
178. The Dreaming, Vol. 1 by Simon Spurrier, Dan Watters, Nalo Hopkinson, Kat Howard; illustrated by Bilquis Evely, Abigail Larson, Domo Stanton, Tom Fowler ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (Hoopla eBook; my review)
179. The Good Life Elsewhere by Vladimir Lorchenkov, translated by Ross Ufberg ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (personal copy; my review)
180. Mountolive by Lawrence Durrell ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (personal copy; my review)
181. Monogamy by Sue Miller  ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (eARC from Edelweiss; my review)
182. My Grandmother's Hands by Resmaa Menakem ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (Hoopla eBook; my review)
183. Invisible Kingdom, Vol. 1 by G. Willow Wilson, illustrated by Christian Ward ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (Hoopla eBook; my review)
184. Mother of All Pigs by Malu Halasa ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (personal copy; my review)
185. Inconvenient Daughter by Lauren J. Sharkey ⭐️⭐️⭐️ (eARC from Edelweiss; my review)
186. Exciting Times by Naoise Dolan ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (print galley; my review)
187. We Had No Rules by Corinne Manning ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (eARC from publisher; my review)
188. Amora by Natalia Borges Polesso, translated by Julia Sanches ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (print galley; my review)
189. Sex and Vanity by Kevin Kwan  ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (eARC from NetGalley; my review)
190. The Umbrella Academy, Vol 2: Dallas by Gerard Way, illustrated by Gabriel Bá ⭐️⭐️⭐️ (Hoopla eBook; my review)
191. A Love Story for Bewildered Girls by Emma Morgan ⭐️⭐️⭐️ (print galley; my review)
192. Spring by Karl Ove Knausgaard, translated by Ingvild Burkey ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (Libby eBook; my review)
193. My Favorite Girlfriend was a French Bulldog by Legna Rodríguez Iglesias, translated by Megan McDowell ⭐️⭐️⭐️ (print galley; my review)

Still reading at the end of July:
Chilling Effect by Valerie Valdes
Polar Vortex by Shani Mootoo
Utopia Avenue by David Mitchell

Total Books Read: 29
5-star reads: 7

Audiobook: 0
eBook: 18
Print: 11

Library: 9
Personal: 6 (subscription: 1)
Review: 14

Comics: 3
Crime: 1
Memoir: 2
Non-fiction: 4
Sci-fi/fantasy: 7
Translated: 5
YA/children: 3

Around the World: 11
Middle East 2020: 4
Read the World: 1
Sci-Fi July: 3.5

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Reading Envy 196: Miscommunication with Lindy

Lindy is back, just in time to share about her appointment to the Shadow Giller Jury. We talk about the Canadian book prize and its shadow, recent crafting projects, and recent reads. Jenny is focused on Persian lands in fantasy and a debut novel while Lindy has been reading Canadians from other places. If you would like to contribute to the 200th episode, please see the link in the show notes.

Download or listen via this link: Reading Envy 196: Miscommunication

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Or subscribe via Apple Podcasts by clicking: Subscribe
Or listen through TuneIn
Or listen on Google Play
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Or listen through Spotify 
New! Listen through Google Podcasts

Books discussed:

Polar Vortex by Shani Mootoo
Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust
The Subtweet by Vivek Shraya
Daughters of Smoke and Fire by Ava Horna
How to Pronounce Knife by Souvankham Thammavongsa

Other mentions:

Contribute to the 200th episode (words, not money)
Scotiabank Giller Prize
Cereus Blooms at Night by Shani Mootoo
Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust
Helen Humphreys
Thomas King
Sorcery & Cecelia by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer
Vanishing Monuments by John Elizabeth Stintzi
Crooked Hallelujah by Kelli Jo Ford

Related episodes:

Episode 095 - Lose the Outside World with Lindy Pratch
Episode 107 - Reading Goals 2018 
Episode 124 - Mush Creatures with Lindy Pratch
Episode 159 - Reading Doorways with Lindy
Episode 191 - Stealthy yet Sparkly with Gail Carriger (Sorcery & Cecelia)
Episode 192 - Sly Milieu with Thomas (The Subtweet)

Stalk us online:

Lindy Reads and Reviews (blog)
Lindy on Twitter
Lindy is @Lindy on Litsy
Jenny at Goodreads
Jenny on Twitter
Jenny is @readingenvy on Instagram and Litsy
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